Cooling Chinese real estate investment throws up road block to Vista Tower condo sales

Chinese nationals’ spending on American homes dropped by more than half since 2017
July 26, 2019 12:00PM

Magellan Development Group's Executive Vice President Sean Linnane and Vista Tower

Magellan Development Group’s Executive Vice President Sean Linnane and Vista Tower

Magellan Development is blaming an unexpected drop in Chinese investment in American real estate for draining some momentum from condo sales at Vista Tower.

More than a year before the 93-story tower is scheduled to open, just under half of its 393 condos are sold, according to Crain’s. Only about a dozen units were bought by Chinese nationals, a number Magellan executive Sean Linnane called “disappointing” given China-based Dalian Wanda Group’s stake in the project.

Magellan and Dalian Wanda have stopped advertising the Jeanne Gang-designed tower amid a nationwide evaporation of Chinese investment. Citizens of the world’s largest nation spent about $13.4 billion on residential real estate during the year leading up to March 2019, compared to $30.4 billion the year before, according to a recent National Association of Realtors report.

Chinese investment was skyrocketing in 2014, when Vista Tower was in its planning phase. Dalian Wanda and Magellan set up “multiple sales channels” in China to market the tower, but they have since dried up, according to Linnane, who is overseeing its condo sales.

During the 12 months ending in March, Illinois was the third-ranked target in the United States for Chinese homebuyers, behind California and New Jersey.

Dalian Wanda has been trying to sell its stake in Vista Tower since early 2018. The company reportedly was close to a deal with Canadian shopping mall developer Triple Five, but the sale never materialized.

[Crain’s] — Alex Nitkin